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Bad teachers can be punished more easily under new rules

Ruairí Quinn is increasing the power of the Teaching Council to bring in new sanctions for bad and underperforming teachers.

Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher, who would probably fall afoul of the new regulations.
Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher, who would probably fall afoul of the new regulations.

NEW RULES TO be brought into force by the Department of Education will make it easier to punish bad and underperforming teachers.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn is bringing new legislation before the Oireachtas which will significantly increase the powers available to the Teaching Council, which is the regulatory body for teachers.

The new powers will give the Teaching Council a range of new sanctions to deal with poor teachers.

Up until now, a teacher had to be deemed ‘unfit to teach’ before the Teaching Council could impose any sanctions.

Depending on the findings against a teacher, the Council will be able to hand down punishments ranging from advice, formal warnings, suspension or removal from the register of teachers. Up until now, teachers could only be suspended or removed from the teaching register if they were found to be unfit to teach.

Ruairí Quinn said that the new powers to investigate allegations of misconduct and underperformance will mean parents have a method of having complaints about teaching standards investigated.

“The vast majority of teachers in our classrooms perform well. But for the small minority who do not, I believe that the Teaching Council will now have at its disposal the right tools to deal with cases of serious misconduct and to improve and assist poorly performing teachers,” said the Minister.

He compared the new sanctions to those in other professional regulators such as the Medical Council and An Bord Altranais, which regulates the nursing profession.

“The operation by the Council of robust fitness to teach procedures is important for the public and teachers so that they have full confidence in the teaching profession. This is a further positive step in the full professionalisation of teaching”.

Under the new legislation, teachers will also be able to appeal any refusal of renewal of registration by the Teaching Council to the High Court.

The move is one of a series of reforms brought in under Education Minister Ruairí Quinn, who is also looking to reform the Junior Cert for the first time in 24 years, and change the rules around school uniforms and patronage if parents choose to do so.

Read: Teachers and Dept of Education to discuss concerns over Junior Cert reform >

Read: ASTI accepts latest Haddington Road Agreement >

Column: I don’t teach for ‘good money’ or ‘cushy holidays’ >

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